Piglets

News last update:Oct 19, 2017

US system uses sensors to reduce crushed piglets

A novel US innovation using sensor-based technology can help reduce the number of piglets dying as a result of crushing.

The system is called SmartGuard and was developed by SwineTech, a company located in Cedar Rapids, IA, and associated with the University of Iowa. The student initiative was recently announced to be 1 of the 6 undergraduate finalists in the 2017 Collegiate Inventors Competition, a student prize competition, of which the final is in November.

The SwineTech system in full swing. Should the device pick up a sound of distress, the sow will get a vibration signal. Photo: Matthew Rooda
The SwineTech system in full swing. Should the device pick up a sound of distress, the sow will get a vibration signal. Photo: Matthew Rooda

SwineTech consists of Matthew Rooda, Abraham Espinoza and John Rourke, with Thomas Hornbeck in an advising role. On the Collegiate Inventors Competition’s website, it is explained that the SmartGuard system monitors the pitch, loudness, and duration of squeals and determines whether a piglet is in distress or just squealing as piglets normally do.

Matthew Rooda: “When a piglet is in distress, the device sends a vibration to a wearable patch on the mother, prompting her to stand and free her piglet.”

It is estimated that each device can service up to 150 sows per year.

Historic problem of piglet crushing

On the company’s website, Mr Rooda, founder and CEO of the company, explained he got the idea of the technology while working as an assistant farm manager on a farrow-to-finish farm in Waterloo, IA. He said he “battled the historic problem of piglet crushing” but to no avail.

The concept has already won various other prizes and even featured on CNN and NBC. The aim is a wider introduction of the concept on the market at next year’s World Pork Expo in Des Moines, IA, United States.

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